Libs attempt to defend their dissent from doctrine – especially about morals (read: sex) – by claiming that the Church’s teachings have not be “received”. That is, if a large number of people say they don’t agree with the Church on some point, therefore the Church can’t claim that people must accept it. Moreover, because the teaching hasn’t been “received”, the Church ought to change it’s teaching. That’s liberal dissent in a nutshell. It’s pretty much an exercise in dishonesty.
I see today at First Things a piece by Gregory Brown of the Witherspoon Institute which vivisects Jesuit homosexualist activist Fr James Martin’s claim in his new (bad) book about building “bridges” between the Church (the institutional Church, of course) and homosexuals. Martin claims – wait for it –
“Theologically speaking, you could say that these teachings have not been “received” by the L.G.B.T. community, to whom they were directed.”
Hence, the Church should change her teachings.
Martin, as the First Things article points out, makes an appeal to the sensus fidelium in his claims about the need for teachings to be “received”. Martin:
To take a theological perspective, a teaching must be “received” by the faithful. It’s a complex topic (and I am no professional theologian) but, in general, for a teaching to be complete [?] it must be appreciated, accepted and understood by the faithful. The tradition is that the faithful possess their own inner sense of the authority of a teaching. That’s the sensus fidei or sensus fidelium. You can find out more about it in the Vatican document Sensus Fidei.
No. That isn’t the sensus fidelium.
The sensus fidei fidelium is real and serious. However, the problem with lib claims about the sensus fidei fidelium is that the sensus has to be that precisely of the fidelium… the FAITHFUL. You have to be faithful to the Church and her teachings to have the “sense/grasp/perception” of the Faith. To bring in Augustine: Nisi credideritis non intelligetis… Unless you will have first believed you will not understand.
At the end of the First Things piece, Brown writes:
As I read and reread Fr. Martin’s interviews, I am struck by a persistent ambiguity. Whether given a banal or radical sense, his remarks do not cohere very well with the Vatican document he cites. Why mention the theology of reception at all, if he just meant to make a tactical point about the scale of the Catholic-LGBT divide? Fr. Martin agrees that the rejected teachings are magisterial—so the rejection of them cannot spring from any intuition “infallible in itself with regard to its object,” the Catholic Faith. [BINGO!]
The topic is one that requires clarification. Ever since the document’s release in 2014, progressive Catholics have treated the sensus fidei as a kind of magic bullet licensing dissent on, well, exactly those issues you would expect. The sensus fidei—the spontaneous intuition that the faithful have on account of their connaturality to God—sounds very exciting, because it is. But it is not quite as exciting as certain theologians want it to be.
Yes, indeed. There is great need for a solid book which tackles a) the concept of sensus fidei fidelium and also the b) level or weight of magisterial teaching and documents which communicate those teachings.
The other day I posted about old categories of censures and warnings about teachings which strayed from Catholic doctrine to be avoided, or ways of speaking about teachings which were deficient enough to warrant a warning. HERE
These old categories are useful… but they are not often used today. Are the ever use today? That is, by someone who isn’t an Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist like me?
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